“God never gives us more than we can handle. When we see each joy and, yes, sorrow that comes to us as a gift, and we greet both with gratitude, that’s what makes us stronger people. That gratitude is what helps us build our faith and gives us purpose while we’re here. Otherwise, so much would be unbearable.”
That was just one of the nuggets of wisdom I jotted down as I read John Schlimm’s Five Years in Heaven in May 2015.
“I want one,” I thought as I read the 31-year-old author’s story chronicling his unlikely friendship with an 87-year-old nun. “I want an old nun friend who can teach me with her wise words and gentle tone.”
Theirs was more than a friendship~ it was two quiet souls connecting in a world that sometimes seems to have gone mad.
My daughter, whose eight-year-old son had died a year and a half before, loved the book as much as I did. Not every author would reply when a fan contacts them, but John did. When I told him two wounded souls in Iowa loved his book and asked for personalized autographed copies, John sent these:
We treasure our personalized piece of art on the end pages of a book that contains passages like this:
“These days, people are so caught up in a world that’s competitive and full of temptations. Everyone wants something bigger or more than their neighbor has. A bigger house, a bigger job, more money, more clothes, more gadgets, more popularity, more things. Everyone tries to outdo one another. It’s rare to hear of someone who wants a bigger heart, a bigger faith, or a bigger sense of gratitude for what they already have.”
Clarke University and Shalom Spirituality Center have collaborated to bring John Schlimm to Dubuque in March, where he will appear at several events. On Monday night, March 11, celebrating the 30th anniversary of Shalom, a 6:00 pm dinner will be followed by facilitated discussion related to John’s friendship with Sister Augustine, their mutual connection to Saint Francis, and matters of heart and soul. Cost is $25.
On Tuesday, March 12, at 6:30 pm, a Participatory Art night will be held at Shalom. Attendees can contribute to three projects; an art piece similar to John’s THE SMILE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (is yours) that is displayed at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, flower paintings on canvas that will be taken to a Dubuque area nursing home or retirement center, and a Compassion planting project with letters of compassion printed on recycled paper that contains flower seeds. Cost is $15, which includes materials.
A book club discussion of Five Years in Heaven will be held in the Shalom library on Thursday, March 14 at 6:30. Copies of the book are available at RiverLights Bookstore in Dubuque. Offering is $6, plus the cost of the book. Contact Shalom Spirituality Center, 1001 Davis Street, to register for these Shalom events. 563-582-3592 or Info@shalomretreats.org. Contact Mary Potter Kenyon at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Clarke University is hosting John for a discussion of his varied pursuits on Wednesday night, March 13, at 7:00 in Jansen Music Hall on Clarke campus. The event is open to the public. Contact Hunter Darrouzet at 563-588-8192 or email@example.com for more information.
On Friday, March 15, Convivium Urban Farmstead, 2811 Jackson Street, is hosting a Vegan Cooking demonstration and discussion with John Schlimm, followed by an optional meal. See convivium-dbq.com/events for registration, or contact Leslie Shalabi at 563-557-2900 for more information.